Co-research with older people: a systematic literature review

Hayley James, Tine Buffel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Interest in co-research with older adults has grown in the past 20 years, yet few published studies have addressed why and how older people have been involved as partners in research. This article presents a systematic review of the literature, examining the aims and challenges of co-research and the ways in which older adults can be involved in research. Systematic searches covering several databases were conducted, yielding a total of 3,293 articles, with 27 papers reviewed which involved older people as co-researchers across more than one stage of the research cycle. We find that co-research with older people offers improved understandings of the issues facing older people; more inclusive and responsive policy, practice and service design; and opportunities for co-researchers to develop new skills whilst giving voice to marginalised groups of older people. The analysis highlights the different ways in which older adults can be involved across phases of research, and identifies ethical, methodological and practical challenges encountered in the process. Involving older adults as co-researchers, while labour intensive and practically challenging, holds promise as an underdeveloped resource for social gerontology, as well as older people themselves. The paper identifies four pathways for improving and extending co-research: developing diversified structures of involvement, supporting co-researchers, embedding research rigour and ensuring co-ownership of change.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalAgeing and Society
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the
terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.


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